The Tigers topped the Volunteers 5-4 on Friday, 6-5 on Saturday and 8-3 on Sunday to pick up three key Southeastern Conference wins.
“It’s so big for so many reasons,” Missouri coach Tim Jamieson told reporters. “The most apparent one is just the record overall and in addition coming into the week under .500 staring at Missouri State and three games against Tennessee — the season could go either direction. A lot of credit to our guys for recognizing that and playing probably the best week of baseball we have played in quite a while. It’s huge for us because now there is a lot more to play for.”
Missouri, which improved to 23-21 overall and 6-14 in SEC play, came into the week with a seven-game losing streak. Then the Tigers beat Missouri State and swept Tennessee, giving them their third series win in conference play.
“That was big,” freshman left-hander Michael Plassmeyer told reporters. “Especially against Tennessee. We had an even record with them heading into the game so it put us one ahead of them and showed that we are a little bit better than them.”
The Tigers’ sweep moved them into fifth place in the SEC East standings, ahead of Georgia (22-23, 7-14) and Tennessee (24-21, 6-15), but still trailing South Carolina, Florida, Vanderbilt and Kentucky.
Plassmeyer (4-4) earned the win on Sunday after allowing three runs (two earned) on seven hits in 5 1/3 innings. He struck out four batters and walked none.
“I felt like I was commanding three pitches pretty well,” he said. “The change-up was a little low in the zone. I felt good. Then we got a good lead and just kept it going and bounced back and got the win.”
The Tigers scored eight runs on nine hits in the series finale.
Center fielder Jake Ring, shortstop Ryan Howard and catcher Brett Bond each had two hits. Howard, first baseman Zach Lavy and third baseman Ian Nelson each had two RBIs. Designated hitter Shane Benes scored two runs.
Howard, Ring, Bond and Lavy led the offense throughout the series against the Volunteers.
Howard batted .538 (7-13) with two extra-base hits, six RBIs and three runs scored. Ring hit .455 (5-11) with three runs scored. Bond batted .333 (4-12) with two extra-base hits, three RBIs and three runs. Lavy had three hits, including a home run, and six RBIs.
Lavy and Bond drove in runs in the bottom of the eighth on Friday as the Tigers rallied for a 5-4 victory. Lavy and sophomore outfield Trey Harris had RBI singles in the bottom of the eighth on Saturday in Missouri’s 6-5 come-from-behind win.
The Tigers got strong efforts on the mound, as well.
In Friday’s win, senior righty Reggie McClain (4-2) struck out 12 batters over eight innings of work. He allowed four runs (two earned) on seven hits. On Saturday, sophomore right-hander Tanner Houck allowed five runs (two earned) on eight hits over 7 2/3 innings.
Senior lefty Austin Tribby (3-3), who earned the win on Saturday, and sophomore righty Cole Bartlett both appeared in two games in relief and neither was charged with a run. Tribby allowed two hits in 3 1/3 innings with six strikeouts and one walk. Bartlett, who earned his third save on Saturday, allowed two hits in 2 2/3 innings.